Vietnam may become the first Asian nation to legalize same-sex marriage.
In a surprise move that’s left longtime LGBT rights activists stunned, Vietnam’s Justice Ministry has proposed that same-sex marriage be included in Vietnam’s overhaul of its marriage law.
More after the jump.
As the Associated Press explains, “Vietnam seems an unlikely champion of gay-rights issues. It is routinely lambasted by the international community over its dismal human rights record, often locking up political dissidents who call for democracy or religious freedom. Up until just a few years ago, homosexuality was labeled as a ‘social evil’ alongside drug addiction and prostitution.”
The Vietnam gay community has primarily existed underground, but that’s changed in the last five years. Vietnam's state-run media, which is severely limited in what it can report, is now able to explore gay issues. The media has now run newspaper stories and aired broadcast focusing on gay interest stories.
Justice Minister Ha Hung Cuong said Tuesday in an online chat broadcast on national TV and radio, "I think, as far as human rights are concerned, it's time for us to look at the reality. The number of homosexuals has mounted to hundreds of thousands. It's not a small figure. They live together without registering marriage. They may own property. We, of course, have to handle these issues legally."
(We guess there are so many of us, we can’t be ignored? We’ll take it.)
The same-sex marriage proposal is not a done deal. AP says, “The Justice Ministry will consider opinions from the public along with government agencies before submitting its draft proposal to the National Assembly next May on whether to recommend same-sex marriage or some other type of legal recognition with rights. Then, it must be approved by a majority of parliament.”
It’s a huge step forward that same-sex marriage and gay rights are even on the table.